After years of existing as the bottom dwellers of the NFL, the New York Jets might have finally found their saving grace. And who could have ever predicted it would come in the form of 26-year-old backup quarterback, Mike White.
The South Florida and Western Kentucky alum was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fifth round (171st overall pick) of the 2018 NFL Draft. Ever since, White has been fighting tirelessly to stay in the NFL. In 2019, the Cowboys traded White to the Jets, where he has stayed for the past two seasons. Throughout his time in New York, White has rotated between the official roster and practice squad a total of six times. As the 2021 season geared up, White was finally able to solidify himself as the backup quarterback behind rookie Zach Wilson.
In a demoralizing 54-13 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 7, Zach Wilson went down at the end of the second quarter with a knee injury that would sideline him for the rest of the game as well as Weeks 8 and 9. With Wilson out, White finally got his chance.
It took four years, but on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, Mike White made his first NFL start—and he did not disappoint. White put on an absolutely electric performance, leading the Jets (2-5) to a tremendous 34-31 upset win over Cincinnati. Against a difficult Bengals defense, White completed 37 of 45 passes to boast an impressive completion percentage of 82.2. He threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions that occurred early on in the game. His performance marked the Jets’ first 400-yard passing game since 2000 as well as the most yardage by a first-time NFL starter since Cam Newton threw for 422 yards in 2011. Under White’s leadership, the Jets were able to post a season-high 34 points to secure the win. For the first time in a long time, the Jets franchise has a renewed sense of hope for the future.
White’s stunning success stems from a handful of reasons. The first being that White stuck to throwing short, quick passes. Out of his 45 attempted passes, not a single pass was over 15 yards. Secondly, White heavily targeted running backs Michael Carter and Ty Johnson, who combined for 14 receptions, 166 yards, and one touchdown. Robert Saleh may be faced with a difficult situation in naming a starting QB once Wilson recovers from his PCL injury hopefully next week. Saleh’s decision, and White’s future, will be heavily influenced by his performance against the Colts.
On Thursday Night Football, White will hopefully continue his breakout performance, seeking yet another upset victory as the Jets take on the 3-5 Colts. As of now, the Colts’ defense has allowed for 2,819 total offensive yards this season: 1,949 passing yards and 870 rushing yards.
Is White a one-hit wonder, or could he finally be the one to revive the Jets?